David Peterson wrote: > Speaking of which, I had an idea that I haven't fully fleshed out > yet (too many variables) about a single, unified romanization > system that we could use for everything. The reason is that unless > one's language is spoken by fictional speakers that have access > to the Roman alphabet, a romanization is not an orthography. > As such, it's nothing more than a tool, and it'd be nice if there > was a single way to apply it to every language. I went through a period where I was trying to use a unified romanization for Kolagian languages. Previously each language had its own system of romanization, often corresponding with the elements of the native writing system. I used probably close to all the diacritics in the Latin-1 character set for the vowels, and digraphs for consonants (mainly digraphs with -h, but also things like "ng"). Since Latin-1 has very few diacritics for consonants, I ended up using things like superscript 1, 2, and 3 (¹ ² ³). (I think those were for palatalized, velarized, and retroflex although I don't recall specifically.) At one time I tried coming up with a unified system for Azirian languages, using things like the "comma below" diacritic for palatal sounds, circumflex for retroflex, prefixing the letter "c" for clicks, etc, but I never got very far with that, and currently each language has its own romanization. I've considered just using IPA, and in fact my current Zharranh romanization uses the IPA symbols for retroflex consonants. > How it gets implemented, though, depends on what phonemes > are present in the language. So, for example, if there are aspirated > stops, use "th", "ph" and "kh" for them. If there are no aspirated > stops but some (contrastive) fricatives in the same places of > articulation, though, use these digraphs for those (so "th" for > voiceless interdental; "kh" for voiceless velar; "ph" for voiceless > bilabial if voiceless labio-dental is already present). If there are > both aspirated stops and fricatives like these, then perhaps one > would go to Unicode. Well, if you've got a language with unusual sounds like a retroflex lateral fricative (as Lindiga has), any way you write that is likely to be a bit ad-hoc unless you have a systematic way of representing either retroflex sounds, or lateral fricatives, or both. So unless the romanization scheme is inclusive enough to account for all the sounds of language, even potentially unanticipated sounds, there will be cases where it won't fit (in this case, even IPA doesn't have a representation for the sound in question, although we can fake it and write [ɬ̢]). > But the idea is that this would be a program which would allow > you to feed it a phonology, and it would return a romanization > system. The idea would be to regularize non-orthographic > romanization systems, and to cut down on the peculiarities > (randomly using "x" for [T] or "jh" for [p], or whatever other strange > thing someone has come up with). It would certainly make > perusing conlang websites a lot simpler. A romanization system > shouldn't require a manual--that's what orthographies are for! Sounds like a worthy goal. Going back to Zharranh, it has a pecular letter romanized as "q" that can be pronounced [kw] or [p] depending on context. Now years later, I don't remember the exact phonetic rule, so it would have been much simpler if I'd just written "kw" or "p" in the first place.